Not all that long ago, college football fans couldn't wait for the early season showdown between Florida and Tennessee. Think back just 10 years as the Gators and Vols traded victories in tight thrillers. But Florida goes into this weekend as a 291/2-point favorite over Tennessee. It's no longer one of the top games on Florida's schedule and one of the better games of the season - it might not even be the best game of the weekend. We take a look at other famous rivalries in college football that have lost a bit of luster simply because one team has started dominating the series.
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From 1998 to 2004, the Gators and Vols played seven times with Tennessee holding a 4-3 edge. Five of the seven games were settled by four points or fewer. In 2001, Tennessee won in Gainesville for the first time in 30 years. For that short spell, it was as good of a rivalry as any in the land. Then two things happened. The Gators got really good, and the Vols got really mediocre. The result: Florida has won four consecutive meetings, including the past two seasons when it won 59-20 and 30-6.
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These teams met 26 times from 1969 to 1993. In 15 of those games, both teams were ranked in the top 10 when they met, including two times when they were ranked Nos. 1 and 2. In that span, Oklahoma won 14 times, while Nebraska won 12. Because of the Big 12 schedule, they don't play every year anymore, and that's just as well. Nebraska is no longer a powerhouse, while Oklahoma has turned into one under coach Bob Stoops. The Sooners have won four straight in the rivalry and five of the past six. Last year, the Sooners clobbered the Cornhuskers 62-28.
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Some make the argument that this is the greatest rivalry in college football. The reputation grew during the Woody Hayes-Bo Schembechler years when Michigan went 5-4-1 during this bitter series. But, lately, Ohio State has dominated. The Buckeyes have won five in a row and seven of the past eight. Last year's game was a thorough 42-7 Ohio State victory, and it wouldn't be surprising to see a similar score when the teams meet again this year as Michigan tries to regain its spot among the nation's elite programs.
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These teams first met in 1875 and Yale dominated the early years, winning 10 of the first 12 meetings. Then from 1948 to 2000, no school won more than three in a row in the rivalry. But now the power has shifted to Harvard. The Crimson has won seven of the past eight games, although some of the games have been close.
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The teams have taken turns controlling the series since they started playing in 1929. These days, the pendulum has swung to USC. The Trojans have become one of the nation's best programs and have won nine of the past 10 meetings, including games won 66-19, 52-21, 47-22 and 27-0. But UCLA's lone win in that stretch - 13-9 in 2006 - ruined USC's national championship hopes ... and saved Florida's. Still, the Trojans have become king in this Los Angeles rivalry.
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This rivalry, which dates to 1892, is known as the Big Game. Its most famous moment was when the band stormed the field during Cal's kickoff return to win in 1982. When Stanford won in 2001, it was its seventh consecutive victory in the rivalry. Since then, Cal has won six of the seven meetings by an average margin of 21 points.
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Two legendary programs whose rivalry dates to 1926. This is another rivalry that is close overall (Notre Dame holds a 42-33-5 advantage), but the teams have exchanged dominance. USC is the top dog for now. While Notre Dame has slipped under coach Charlie Weis, the Trojans have won seven in a row, and only one of the games has been close. The past two seasons, USC has won by scores of 38-3 and 38-0. Throw out USC's 34-31 victory in 2005 and the average score of this series since 2002 is USC 42, Notre Dame 11.
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From 1989 to 2003, this was one of the best rivalries, especially during the years when Steve Spurrier was at Florida going against FSU legend Bobby Bowden. FSU won 11 times, Florida won five times, and then there was the 31-31 tie when FSU rallied from 28 down in the fourth quarter in 1994. UF's current streak started in Tallahassee in 2004 - Ron Zook's final regular-season game as Gators coach - and Urban Meyer has won by scores of 34-7, 21-14, 45-12 and 45-15.
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Still one of the special days in college football, although both teams have fallen from national prominence. The academies first met in 1890, and, overall, the rivalry is close. Navy owns a 53-49-7 advantage. But the Midshipmen have turned this tradition into a one-sided rout. Navy has won seven in a row and nine of the past 10, including the past two meetings by a combined score of 72-3.